JULY 18, 2008

How Formula 2 can work

There has been much doubt expressed about the FIA's plans to reintroduce Formula 2 racing. The criticism has centred on the fact that there will be no promotion, no television and the price is so low that teams believe that the chassis will not be very sophistocated. However, it seems that the plan is rather more realistic than it at first appears. We hear that the plan is to use the Formula Master championship as the basis for the new series. This means that the championship will be run alongside the FIA World Touring Car Championship. As this is promoted and televised by Eurosport the question of coverage will be largely solved and the success of the WTCC will mean that there will be crowds. This means that there will are be races at venues such as Pau (a traditional F2 race), Brno, Estoril, Brands Hatch, Imola and Monza.

The GP2 Series may stay as a supporting race for Formula 1, but teams may decide that the new championship is a much better investment - at least that is what the FIA will be hoping.

The FIA says that there will be a tender for the chassis but the current Tatuus carbonfibre monocoque Formula Master car must start as the favourite. These include features such as front and rear crash structures, wheel tethers and removable head protection. The cars are powered by 2-litre aluminium Honda engines, which produce 250 horsepower. These engines are in line with the FIA's Super 2000 regulations and are biofuel compatible. The series currently attracts 25 cars and last year's champion - the inaugural title winner - Jerome D'Ambrosio is now racing in GP2. The Formula Master series was orginally conceived as a competitor for Formula 3 by N Technology, which had peviously been involved in the WTCC, running the Alfa Romeo factory team.

Tatuus has been building chassis since 1980 and has enjoyed considerable success in Formula Renault. The company builds cars for the Japanese Formula Challenge series in addition to the Formula Master cars.

The FIA is currently refusing to comment on whether this is the plan, but it makes perfect sense. The knock-on effect of this is that there will almost certainly need to be a rethink of Formula 3 rules in order to differentiate between F2 and F3. This is probably not a bad idea as budgets in F3 these days are in the region of $700,000.